Week 2 Game Recap: Tennessee Titans 7, San Diego Chargers 40
What you need to know
All you really need to know about the Tennessee offense is that they tied a team record low with just 15 total yards of offense the entire first half. They went three and out on the first five possessions, and only recorded a first down because of a penalty on San Diego.
HC Jeff Fisher wouldn’t commit to one quarterback for the entire game, and it appeared to greatly upset any potential rhythm of the offense. Starter Kerry Collins again played terribly, and replacement Vince Young didn’t fare much better. The quarterbacks alternated quarters for the most part, and Fisher indicated that would again be the plan going forward.
The run game never had a chance to get in synch with the team falling behind by so much early on. The Titans ran the ball just 19 times, with five of those coming courtesy of Vince Young.
Tennessee’s defense played bad early, and terrible later. San Diego certainly appears to be one of the league’s top offenses, but 476 yards from scrimmage against anyone is a wretched afternoon.
Against another poor offensive team, the Chargers’ defense flat-out dominated. They forced Tennessee to go three and out on its first five possessions, allowing just 15 total yards the entire first half. The Chargers have never had back-to-back shutouts in their history, and fell short by 3:09 in this game from doing so.
The San Diego offense looks to be a machine. They ran a full bag of tricks, including a failed HB option pass, a college option play between QB and RB, a fake pass on a WR reverse, and tons of motion behind the line.
QB Philip Rivers was given more leeway this week than last. In Week 1, Rivers was just 8-11. At one point in the first quarter of this game, Rivers was 8-11. He did everything that was asked of him and more. At least through two games against two of the worst teams in the league, the team doesn’t appear to miss Drew Brees in the least.
For owners worrying about TE Antonio Gates’ seemingly pedestrian statistics through two games, know this, he is close. There were several instances where a couple of inches here or there made the difference between a mediocre day and a fantastic game.
What you ought to know
|QB Vince Young, Pass: 7 - 19 - 106 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 24 - 0|
Young entered the game in relief of Collins midway through the second quarter. Upon entering the game, the Chargers’ pass defense brought more of a rush. The added pressure forced Young into some very bad-looking passes that were hurried and off-target. Upon returning to the contest, the game was already far out of reach and the San Diego defense had basically called off the dogs. Young looked more comfortable and improved somewhat as the game went on, but again that was likely a product of the softer defense he was facing. Young’s first NFL highlight was a nice pass to the back of the end zone for a touchdown to Drew Bennett. Curiously, it was the only pass he threw in Bennett’s direction the whole game. Instead, Young focused more on guys like Bobby Wade and Bo Scaife as he seemed a little more comfortable with the shorter passes. Young had a nice scramble to pick up a first down on a fourth and ten situation, and his athleticism appears to translate well to the NFL game at least. He did have a problem holding onto the football, as he fumbled twice (recovering both) and nearly lost a third.
Collins played as poorly as his statistics indicate. He started the game, then came out briefly for Vince Young, then returned in the second half, and finally was benched for the fourth quarter. In between all that, he posted about the most miserable stats a QB can put up. He was intercepted twice, one the result of a terrible decision. The second was simply a great play by CB Quentin Jammer jumping the WR route. Of course, Collins should have been intercepted even before either of those, but CB Drayton Florence dropped a sure pass that likely would have gone for a touchdown the other way. Collins didn’t make one pass the entire game that could be qualified as a good pass. HC Jeff Fisher says the plan going forward is to alternate his quarterbacks in-game, which doesn’t seem like it will bode well for Tennessee because of the wildly differing styles of play.
White’s first career carry came midway through the second quarter, at the same time Vince Young was entering the game. White looked healthy running the football, and was much more productive than starter Chris Brown. Of course, many of White’s carries came when the game was out of reach.
|RB Chris Brown, Rush: 6 - 9 - 0, Rec: 1 - 0 - 0 (2 targets)|
Brown played, but unless you were paying very close attention, you missed him. With just seven touches, he may as well have not suited up for the game. He was a non-factor in the passing game, and the score dictated that Tennessee wasn’t going to get much of a run game going.
Henry was inactive for the game and did not play.
Bennett wasn’t looked to much once Kerry Collins left the game, as Vince Young opted to throw to the backup receivers a lot more. Bennett’s touchdown came during garbage time, and it was the only time Young threw Bennett’s way all game. The Titans won’t lose every game by 33 points, but at this point it appears they will trail quite a bit, and “garbage time” scores such as this one may be common all season.
Givens was extremely quiet, especially once Vince Young entered the game. Givens’ last target came with 3:23 left in the fourth quarter, so it’s not like he wasn’t playing with the big deficit.
Jones didn’t do much with his five targets. He blew an opportunity to make a play on one in particular. He dropped what would have been at least a 25 yard reception near the sideline in the fourth quarter. Depending on how quickly he turned upfield, there is an outside chance he could have scored on the play.
Wade caught no passes, but was tied with Brandon Jones as the top target of Vince Young. After failing to record a reception, that may change going forward.
All of Scaife’s team high three receptions for 53 yards came in garbage time, and he was a non-factor until the last possession of the game.
Troupe completely disappeared from this game early on. His name was barely mentioned, and the San Diego defense completely removed him as a potential weapon.
Bironas connected on his only extra point, but the Titans never got close enough to kick any field goals. Without improved QB play, this could be a season-long trend and points may be tough to come by.
Tennessee was gashed by the combination of LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner. Early on, Tomlinson picked up all of the tough yards despite Tennessee making an obvious effort to force Philip Rivers to beat them through the air. Once Rivers demonstrated that he could do just that, the Titans resorted to getting beaten both ways. On the first Tomlinson touchdown run, FB Lorenzo Neal bulldozed a path to the end zone by clearing the defender out of the way. On the second Tomlinson run, the defender went out of his way to avoid being blocked by Neal and in doing so, completely removed himself from the possibility of making a play. It just appeared that Tennessee had very little tackling ability. Even late in the contest when they knew heavy doses of Turner were coming, they were powerless to stop him. Turner managed to break a 73 yard run up the right side before being caught from behind and tackled by Adam “Pacman” Jones. San Diego eventually scored on that possession anyway on a Charlie Whitehurst bootleg run.
The Titans appeared to want to make Philip Rivers beat them. He did. The Chargers had their way through the air, and the only reason Rivers’ numbers weren’t even better is because there was no need to keep hoisting the ball downfield in the second half. It could have been even worse, as TE Antonio Gates dropped or was misthrown several passes that could have gone for big gains and made the final stat line look even worse. DT Albert Haynesworth was shaken up a bit, but no update was given on his condition and he appeared to be fine immediately following the play.
|QB Philip Rivers, Pass: 25 - 35 - 235 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 10 - 0|
Rivers demonstrated exactly why the Chargers acquired him several years ago, and he appears to have learned a lot sitting behind Drew Brees the past two seasons. He made every kind of pass that was needed, and was equally effective on roll-outs and when standing in the pocket. One particularly impressive pass was an early sideline out to Antonio Gates. Rivers stood tall with a defender bearing down hard and withstood the hit while delivering a perfect strike to Gates. Rivers has good mobility, and an ability to improvise a play much better than one would think for such a big guy. The Chargers didn’t unveil the whole playbook last week, but allowed Rivers much more freedom this time around. Case in point: Rivers was just 8-11 the entire Week 1 game, but at one point in the first quarter this week he was already 8-11. Rivers’ stats could have been even better, but he just missed Gates twice down the seam for what would have been big gains, and Gates later dropped a potential touchdown right at the goal line (it actually looked to be a reception and a fumble by Gates). It appears the Rivers/Gates connection is close, and with another week of preparation we should see them get on the same page fairly soon. Basically, Rivers played mistake-free football and appears more than capable of running a very explosive offense.
Whitehurst scored on a bootleg, the only play of the game for him that didn’t involve handing off to Michael Turner. On the score, the defense was preoccupied with Turner (who had just busted a 73 yard run), and Whitehurst waltzed in untouched.
|RB LaDainian Tomlinson, Pass: 0 - 1 - 0 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 19 - 71 - 2, Rec: 7 - 51 - 0 (8 targets)|
Tomlinson’s stat sheet was outstanding, and if not for the dominance of the defense, may have been even better. Tomlinson recorded 122 total yards and two touchdowns in just three quarters of play. Backup HB Michael Turner took over full-time in the fourth quarter, with Tomlinson getting the rest of the afternoon off. In addition to his stats, Tomlinson set two milestones. He tied WR Lance Alworth on the Chargers’ all-time touchdown list with the 83rd score of his career. Later, he went over 10,000 total yards from scrimmage (rushing + receiving). It wasn’t a perfect game for Tomlinson, as Tennessee held him to just 3.7 yards per carry as they really focused on stopping him. Tomlinson also overthrew a wide-open Antonio Gates in the end zone on a halfback option pass early in the game, but he did manage to find the end zone twice on the ground thanks to some fantastic blocking of FB Lorenzo Neal.
Turner is slowly becoming a flex option for fantasy owners, at least in games that are potential blowout wins for the Chargers. He plays a role during the flow of the game to keep Tomlinson rested, and if San Diego has a big enough lead in the fourth quarter, Turner takes over. He did it last year, with wild success, and he has picked up where he left off this season. Turner is an electric runner, and astute fantasy owners already know to keep an eye out for him if/when he leaves the Chargers. Turner is incredible even when teams know he’s coming, as evidenced by his 73 yard run even when Tennessee knew all the Chargers were doing was running out the clock. Turner was caught from behind by Adam “Pacman” Jones at the Tennessee 15 yard line; otherwise, he would have scored.
Neal dropped an easy screen pass for what would have been his only touch of the game, but Neal’s value lies much more in his blocking. He cleared a path for Tomlinson on the first touchdown run, and on the second score, a would-be tackler actually backed out of Neal’s way to avoid being blocked – which only served to let Tomlinson score that much easier. Tomlinson owners know by now how critical he is to the Chargers’ run game, and even with all of his talents, one cannot overestimate how much LaDainian Tomlinson benefits by having a fullback of Neal’s caliber.
McCardell was just overthrown in the end zone by Philip Rivers for what could have been McCardell’s first score of the season. He appeared to be a bit shaken up on the play and was slow to get up. He left for the locker room under his own power and didn’t appear to be in too much discomfort. There was no update given on his condition and he did not return, though that was likely precautionary. With the bye week coming already next week, McCardell should be good to go by Week 4.
Jackson wasn’t heavily involved in the passing game, but was still the second-most targeted wide receiver after Keenan McCardell. He made a very nice grab to reach back and across his body for the touchdown, and looks to be a bigger focus of the passing game this year. If an injury were to strike either of the starting wideouts (Keenan McCardell and Eric Parker), Jackson’s role could grow considerably.
Parker made an impressive leaping grab high in traffic to haul in a 25 yard pass, but was not thrown to again. This is the second week that has seen Parker with a limited role in the offense.
Gates had a game that will show up in the box score as a disappointment for him, but one that was very close to being dynamite. He was overthrown in the back of the end zone by RB LaDainian Tomlinson on a halfback option pass. Gates was wide open on the play. Later, he was barely overthrown over the middle on a sliding attempt, but the ball just went off his fingertips. It could have been caught, but was a tough play. In the third quarter, Rivers just missed him on what would have been a big gain down the seam where there was nothing but space in front of the big TE. Soon after that, Gates was targeted at the goal line by Rivers for what could have been a TD, but the ball was dropped. It actually appeared to be a catch and then a fumble at the one yard line, but it was ruled incomplete. The news wasn’t all bad for Gates, as he made a terrific leaping catch in traffic by jumping over several defenders to snag a 28 yard pass. And he did tie Tomlinson for the game high in passing targets, and was just four yards shy of leading all players in receiving yardage. For owners who might be nervous about how Gates will perform with Rivers as the QB, it appears that they are very slightly off with their timing, but very close to clicking.
He probably isn’t going to steal any critical targets from Antonio Gates, but Manumaleuna actually played a role in the offense for the Chargers. He saw his targets early on, and with good hands he appears to be a good outlet for Rivers when the defense is focusing on Tomlinson, Gates, etc in the red zone.
Kaeding banged in field goals from 28, 31, 35, and 44 yards out, and none were in question.
Neither Tennessee RB was able to get enough carries to get into any kind of rhythm against San Diego, as the Chargers pretty much lived in the backfield the entire game. The only player who demonstrated any kind of rushing ability was Vince Young, and showed some elusiveness and got away from tacklers on occasion. But that was late in the game when the Chargers’ defense had softened up. For the majority of the game, the Chargers’ defenders not only tackled runners; they displayed some vicious hitting. They didn’t resort to dragging down ball carriers or arm tackles – they put some big shots on people.
The afternoon started ominously, as Drayton Florence dropped an easy interception that could have gone for a touchdown the other way. That was about the only blemish on the San Diego pass defense. Despite missing out on that pick, San Diego defenders came up with two picks of Collins later (one by Shawne Merriman for his first career interception, and another by Quentin Jammer on a play where he did a nice job to jump the route of David Givens). Merriman wasn’t heard from quite as much because Tennessee seemed to be going out of their way to avoid him. In doing so, they ran right into Luis Castillo and Shaun Phillips, who both enjoyed solid games. Phillips in particular was impressive in replacing Steve Foley, though he could be trying a bit too hard as he was whistled for two off-sides penalties for trying to jump the snap. The Chargers failed to register a sack, but it was more because they weren’t applying much pressure up front. They seemed content to only rush the front and the occasional linebacker and sit back and wait for Kerry Collins to make mistakes. Once Vince Young was in the game, the pressure was increased, but not all-out (the game was pretty well in hand by that point). The Chargers came within 3:09 of posting back-to-back shutouts for the first time in franchise history, but allowed a late score to Drew Bennett with the defense in a very soft coverage.